Geography and Baseball: Why the Expos left Montreal.

In the early 2000s, signs were pointing to the Montreal Expos leaving the city of Montreal. In 2005, they became the Washington Nationals. From a sports and business perspective, it was not much of a surprise. Attendance was dropping, a fire sale occurred after the 1994 baseball strike, and by 1998, the Expos were a shell of their former glory of the 1980s-90s.

There is another component to consider: Geography.

Montreal would be the first Canadian city to get a Major League Baseball team, in 1969. The Montreal Expos. It would also have the coldest climate of any MLB city. Minneapolis would be a close second. The Expos played in Le Stade Parc Jarry. Considering the climate, it was a very subpar venue. Urban geography made it difficult to build more seats(seating was in the 20,000s).

stade-parc-jarry-4

Source: http://www.exposbaseball.net/jarry-park.html

A domed stadium was needed. In 1977, the Expos would inherit a new stadium as a hold over from the 1976 Summer Olympics, aptly named Olympic Stadium. There were construction problems with the new stadium, halting the addition of a retractable dome until the 1980s. 

1280px-OlympicStadium

However, there is one thing to consider: Urban geography. By the 1990s, Le Stade Olympique was becoming a baseball venue few wanted. A new venue was sought after. After the 1994 strike, many people stopped going to games. During the 1990s-early 2000s, cities such as Cleveland, Seattle, Detroit, Pittsburgh,etc were building new baseball venues in the downtown areas, or at least very close to downtown. It was about bringing people to the downtown. Montreal’s Le Stade Olympique was in the far north of Montreal, far from the downtown. Funding for a new baseball venue in Downtown Montreal was lacking.

In the end, urban geography was a major factor for the Expos leaving.

 

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